Al Fanar Restaurant & Café
Al Fanar is, without a doubt, one of the best Emirati experiences in the city. Immerse yourself in a setting similar to an old-style UAE neighbourhood, before digging into a rich array of delicacies. The restaurant has three branches, including one at Yas Mall’s Cascade Dining, with the trio all cooking up unique tastes similar to those found in homes across the capital, from the freshest of salads and seafoods to an array of mouth-watering meats. It even has a special tourist menu designed to give those new to the cuisine a memorable introduction to the fare on offer. This place transports you back to the UAE of the 1960s and, after enjoying a visit, you’ll be eager to step back in time again and again.
(02 877 2272).
Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar
The American chocolatier Alison Nelson has two branches of her chocolate bar in Abu Dhabi, though we wouldn’t mind a few more. Time Out New York lauded the original outlet as the “Best Chocolate Store in New York”, so who are we to disagree? From pastries and fondues to chocolate elixirs and ice creams, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store. What’s not to like?
(02 565 0578).
The French are passionate foodies. They stay true to tradition but celebrate each meal with a touch of je ne sais quoi. Bringing that passion to our shores is this famed Parisian café. It is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, and you will be happy whatever time of day you go. Its famed chocolat Africain has won many hearts.
(02 565 1001).
Buca di Beppo
Buca di Beppo is good, honest fun served with meatballs. In the true spirit of Italian culture, the dishes are whipped up with love to be shared and served family-style, which is another way of saying the portions are absolutely huge. The menu features a range of antipasti, entrées, fresh breads, pizza, baked pasta, specialty pasta, traditional pasta, kids’ dishes – you name it, they’ve got it with marinara smothered on top. Be warned: you might need a bigger belt.
(02 665 6247).
Antonio Carluccio’s Abu Dhabi eatery serves up a wide range of Italian dishes in a bustling, contemporary setting. Don’t fill up on the bread; make sure you leave room for some of the freshly-made pasta dishes. The spicy penne arrabbiata in the rich tomato sauce is a great choice for vegetarians, while the chicken risotto is creamy and fluffy with plenty of tender chunks of chicken. Salads are light and colourful, while desserts range from classic choices like tiramisu to the novelty affogato, a tall glass stuffed with vanilla ice cream then smothered in rich espresso. This place appeals to both adults and kids alike.
(02 565 1004).
A whole world of international cuisine awaits at this family-friendly venue. From energy-boosting breakfast classics, such as smashed avo on toast and the spicy Mexican huevos rancheros (pictured right), to main courses as varied as a Goan prawn curry and the smoky chipotle chicken, Giraffe has plenty to offer. Whether you’re looking to fill up on one of the juicy burgers, have a nibble on a light salad, or go all out with one of the delicious desserts (there’s a salted caramel sundae on the menu!), the whole family is bound to find something they’ll enjoy.
(02 565 0711).
La Pâtisserie des Rêves
La Pâtisserie des Rêves’ modern take on the great classics of French pastry is just too good to resist (order the Saint Honoré). It was created thanks to Philippe Conticini, the talented pastry chef, and Thierry Teyssier, founder of Lever De Rideau and Maisons des Rêves. Their mutual passion for French pastry led them to create La Pâtisserie des Rêves back in 2009 and, after taking Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo by storm, it’s now also one of Abu Dhabi’s most loved patisseries. Before or after you’ve feasted, you can also have a wander around Yas Mall’s prestigious home-grown department store, Tryano, where the café is based.
(02 205 4630).
Ever since 1862, this French luxury bakery brand has been tempting sweet tooths the world over. Delicate macarons, prettily presented pastries, classic viennoiserie, even hearty egg dishes can be ordered amid the quaint, feminine interiors. Pop in for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, or even just a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea; no matter what time, you’ll enjoy excellent service and memorable food.
(02 621 0304).
There is little chance that you’ll be able to walk past this Greek eatery and not be struck by intrigue as staff dressed in traditional attire stand at the door beckoning you in. The décor is all bright whites and blues, while there are Parthenon-style columns dotted around. As for the food – it’s simple, honest cooking; dishes are made using authentic Mediterranean recipes, passed down through generations. The moussaka and meatballs in tomato sauce are a must, as is the grilled chicken and garlic shrimp.
(02 565 1127).
P.F. Chang’s boasts a sleek, contemporary venue with comfortable seating and a buzzing vibe, thanks to its popularity. Your food is served quickly and efficiently, and tastes great. This Arizona-born restaurant might be renowned for the Dynamite Shrimp, but there are also plenty of great, classic Chinese dishes on the menu, alongside more modern creations (but do still order that shrimp!).
(02 492 6670).
Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil is a meat-lover’s haven. It’s fashioned on the traditional Brazilian churrascarias, where you can sit back and allow cut after cut to be served until you simply couldn’t have another bite. The meat is of a high quality and well cooked, and you’ll also get unlimited salads and a decent selection of sides. Considering everything you get, it’s great value, too.
(02 563 1424).
The Cheesecake Factory
This decadent American import serves up dishes of cheesy delights, such as cheeseburgers, pizza, grilled cheese, quesadillas and corn dogs – you get the picture. You can follow that up with everyone’s favourite American sweet treats: ice cream sundaes and, of course, there’s cheesecake – they offer more than 50 different signature cheesecakes that vary throughout the year. There’s even a low-carb option if you’re watching your weight. For something more indulgent, the key lime variety is refreshing and delicious.
(02 492 6636).